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Legal Ethics

Ohio AG Marc Dann Considers Policies to Address ‘Dannimal House’ Image

Posted Apr 30, 2008 6:48 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann is considering a new e-mail policy after thousands of e-mails released in a sexual harassment investigation led critics to label his office “Dannimal House.”

Spokesman Jim Gravelle says top officials in Dann's office are discussing changes that would cover e-mail exchanges and establish guidelines for general office decorum, the Tribune Chronicle reports.

The changes won’t be made until completion of an investigation into sexual harassment charges against Anthony Gutierrez, general service director. The complainant, Cindy Stankoski, said she visited an apartment Dann shared with Gutierrez and that Dann’s scheduler, Jessica Utovich, was there in her pajamas. Some reports said Utovich was dressed in sweatpants rather than PJs.

In Utovich’s e-mails to Dann, she referred to him as a “dork” and she ended another message with “FU,” the Tribune Chronicle story says.

The Columbus Times Dispatch examined the e-mails and interviewed current and former employees of Dann’s. Its story said the evidence points to “a casual work environment that often extends into alcohol-lubricated evenings in which work and personal lives blur.”

One unsuccessful job applicant told the Dispatch he was asked if he could tolerate an atmosphere of frequent vulgarity. During the interview he heard staff members in nearby work areas shout obscenities at each other, the story says.

A Tribune Chronicle editorial notes the “Dannimal House” criticism but says the e-mails do not show the alleged sexual harassment by Gutierrez, and do not prove Dann’s relationship with Utovich was inappropriate.

“Through the three months covered in Utovich-Dann e-mails, most concerned business, and they show Dann maintained a hectic schedule,” the editorial says.

A hat tip to Legal Blog Watch, which posted a story on the possible e-mail changes.

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